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The Nobility of Defeat
By Hooman Anvari

One day a man sat on the edge of a cliff,
And being as beautiful as the view was,
It reminded him of his childhood,
It reminded him of his father.

His father had been his mentor, his `idol' ever since he was young. As he grew up in that shadow, it was inevitable that he too would `inherit' some of his father's characteristics.

His father was a man of determination who always strived to achieve his best, and as his son grew older, he too acquired the same virtue.

The father would always teach his son the importance of hard work and effort in achieving success, until the time came when his son rivaled him in skill and only then were his words appreciated.

It happened one day when his son finally beat him at the game of `chess' which was a game his father was extremely skilled at. He also conquered his father in physical strength, too, which was another sign of his flourishing.

But one day his son faced the true test of nobility and failed in his efforts.

Throughout life, he had always been labeled a `winner' because he was the best at whatever he put his mind to, and ‘competition' for him was merely another chance for him to prove his superiority.

But on this particular day, he finally met his match and was defeated.

It almost seemed as though his life had crumbled, he simply could not face defeat, and the ghost of fear haunted him until he faced up to his problem.

Now there was no ‘mentor' he could look up to, as his father was no match for his skills anymore, and he felt an insecurity knowing that he was the best in his family, yet there was no-one he could turn to.

As he sat down and pondered for a while, he glanced around his bedroom and his first ‘winning' trophy caught his eye. It was one of thousands he'd received throughout the years, but this one was special. It was his first and it was given to him by his parents.

As he read the inscription, he finally realized what it meant, and perhaps only after ‘losing' could he appreciate its value. The inscription read: -

"The only difference between winning and losing is that the loser feels he never should have been defeated, but the winner has the courage to accept it."

Suddenly his eyes opened to the wisdom of these words as he realized that winning and losing was all in the mind. Perhaps all those times when he started to defeat his father at ‘chess', it was not really he who was winning, instead it was his father's courage to accept defeat which was where the ‘true glory' lies. "Perhaps," he pondered to himself, "this was the criteria for nobility."

Many years passed and this son grew up to be a man, and after his father's passing away did he wake up to the reality of his father's inner nobility and ‘contentment' which was the reason for his security and success.

While his father was still alive he taught his son the most important virtue of all. That defeat was the only way he could improve and strive to succeed, although at first its fruit seemed bitter.

He recalled the day his father comforted him when he was `lost' for the very first time and it was the first time he tasted the bitter fruit of defeat. His father illustrated what he meant by relating a story to him.

"There was once a prince who was the most noble person in the land, and no-one dared opposed him. And although many times he had contenders, there was no way he could eventually be defeated. But, that was not the reason this prince was so noble. His nobility stemmed from his courage to accept his own capacity and fears, because although the prince may have won many times, it was his losses that enabled him to improve throughout the years.

That is what gave him determination and inner desire to improve, but he won only because inside he was happy and content with himself.”

"But I am not a prince,” he remembers saying.

"The prince" his father replied, "was not a prince of wealth, but an ordinary man who had elevated his capacity and filled his inner potential. He was not rich with wealth but was rich inside himself. That was his trait of nobility.

"One day my son,” he continued, "I pray that your spirit may waft through the clouds of understanding as you reach a totally new dimension in life which will elevate your soul and further guide you to attain the shores of happiness and contentment."

His father went on further to explain that one day he too will become a ‘prince' but only if his desire for improvement and acceptance of defeat becomes increased.

Now ‘winning' seemed to take on a new meaning as well.

To succeed we must constantly strive to do our best and as our ‘best' becomes ever ‘better', then that margin is ‘winning'. Otherwise (as his father had once quoted) you become so obsessed with winning for the sake of your own desires that you lose touch with the true meaning of the word.

He wrote a short passage down to remind him of this balance:-

"When all that is forgotten is overtaken by self-ego and desire which listens not to words so wise, eventually the angel of reality knocks on that door and whispers ‘you never really did experience glory and nobility because they were hidden in your heart, yet they were always in disguise.’ “

So armed with this knowledge, this son went on to achieve many great heights and inspired many who crossed his path. For him ‘winning' acquired a new meaning, as he directed his life towards success.

Tears flow down his cheeks every time his family visits the graveyard from time to time and read the inscription on his father's tombstone: -

"The noble feels he has everyone at his mercy,

But the merciful knows he has influence over people because of his nobility."

Now, looking at the beautiful view from the top of the cliff, and inhaling the redolent mountainous air, he felt his spirit waft ...

... and he now saw everything in proportion because now he was secure and content, he had reached the top, and the scenery below belonged to him, as there was no further to climb ...

Now, it was time to fly ...

We welcome your comments:


Painting by Mary T. Hoffman - God's Creation in Art

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